Objective

This study aimed to analyze the demographic and descriptive information of new patients presenting to an educational institution–based chiropractic student clinic in South Africa that could then be used to draw comparisons to other international chiropractic student clinics and local practices.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective descriptive study of all new patient files from January 1, 2016, to July 31, 2016. The variables extracted were age, health profiles, number of musculoskeletal complaints, treatment protocol, and number of treatments that patients received for the initial complaint. Data were analyzed using cross-tabulations and multidimensional χ2 tests.

Results

There were 865 files reviewed. Most patients were aged between 20 and 24 years. Lumbar and pelvic complaints were most common (42.2%), followed by the cervical spine (28%). Lumbar (18.8%) and cervical (16.8%) biomechanical conditions, followed by lumbar myofascial pain syndrome (7.6%), were the most common problems. Musculoskeletal conditions were reported in 99% of cases. The majority (80%) of patients received 9 or fewer treatments for their initial complaint. Manipulation was used in 93.9% of cases, followed by mobilization (8.8%), interferential current (23.5%), and dry needling (19.1%).

Conclusions

Data gathered suggest that there are some general similarities with international training institutions. There are also differences between the study sample and international institutions and South African private chiropractic practice. The dissimilarities were a younger patient population, a lower number of treatment visits, and low exposure to nonmusculoskeletal conditions. These differences may affect the breadth of student education and require further investigation.

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Author notes

Fatima Ismail is a lecturer in the Department of Chiropractic at the University of Johannesburg (John Orr Building, 7th Floor, University of Johannesburg, 55 Beit Street, Doornfontein, Johannesburg 2028, South Africa; fismail@uj.co.za). Naomi Booysen is with the Department of Chiropractic at the University of Johannesburg (John Orr Building, 7th Floor, University of Johannesburg, 55 Beit Street, Doornfontein, Johannesburg 2028, South Africa; mrsbooysen@gmail.com). Christopher Yelverton is head of the Chiropractic Department at the University of Johannesburg (John Orr Building, 7th Floor, University of Johannesburg, 55 Beit Street, Doornfontein, Johannesburg 2028, South Africa; chrisy@uj.ac.za). Cynthia Peterson is a professor in the Department of Chiropractic at the University of Johannesburg (John Orr Building, 7th Floor, University of Johannesburg, 55 Beit Street, Doornfontein, Johannesburg 2028, South Africa; xraydcpeterson@yahoo.ca).

Concept development: NB, CY. Design: NB, CY. Supervision: CY, CP. Data collection/processing: NB. Analysis/interpretation: NB, CY, FI. Literature search: NB, CY, FI. Writing: NB, CY, CP, FI. Critical review: NB, CY, CP, FI.